Portland, USA (Reuters): A recent US study claimed that backache (back pain) is the most common type of pain in older people , and it could signal a greater risk of falling , even for people with no other disabilities.
Lead author Lynn Marshall, an associate professor at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland said, “We know that older people with back pain have a poor physical function, like lower strength and difficulty rising from a chair.”
Researchers analyzed data on nearly 6,000 men over age 65 living at home. The participants filled out baseline questionnaires about back pain whether they had experienced it in the previous 12 months, where the pain was, how often it happened and how severe it was.
The men also reported every four months on whether they had fallen and how many times over the following year.
The researchers also collected information on the men’s medication use, dizziness, disabilities and other body areas experiencing pain to account for the influence of these factors on the risk of a fall.
Just over two-thirds of the men reported having had back pain in the baseline questionnaire. Among these, 62 percent had pain only in the low back, 9 percent reported the pain as severe, 20 percent were bothered by their pain "all or most of the time" and 30 percent limited their activities because of the pain.
During the next year 1,388 men – one-quarter of the group – fell at least once, and 632 men had multiple falls, according to the results in Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.
Men with more severe back pain or pain that occurred more often were also at greater risk for falls.
Dr Thomas Gill, a professor of geriatric medicine at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut said, “Falls and particularly injuries from falls are a common source of disability and functional decline among older persons, but are preventable through relatively inexpensive interventions.”
“Physical activity and exercise, particularly focusing on gait, balance and muscle strength, are beneficial,” researcher said adding that proper footwear is important.
Minimising the number of medications that may affect the brain or blood pressure may also be helpful to prevent falls, Gill said.
According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of death and injury in older Americans.
The results showed that similar findings of a heightened fall risk among US women with back pain.
One of the researcher stated, “Falls result when we lose our balance and fail to recover it. To avoid falls, we need to be aware of both the conditions that could cause us to lose balance and the conditions that prevent regaining balance.”